Everything is supposed to be great and grand in sunny Florida, right? I mean, that’s what I’ve always thought. I have wonderful memories from childhood of vacationing at the beach with my family. So when the opportunity came up last Spring to travel as a nurse to Florida to live and work, I jumped at the chance. I still remember my husband’s face when I mentioned working in Central Florida.
“It wouldn’t be my first choice,” he had said with a grimace.
And I knew why. My husband was a mountain man! I’m not just saying that because of the scruffy beard and big, brown boots either. I mean that he loves the climate. His favorite season is fall, he’s a huge fan of snow, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard him complain about the cold. But complaining about the heat? Well, that’s a different story.
Yep, my husband isn’t a huge fan of hot weather, hence his reaction last year to my beach dreams.
“Let’s just put in for all of these,” he suggested, concerning the list of travel nurse, job locations we saw as options, “and we’ll go with whoever offers you a job first.”
I was secretly hoping for the Florida job.
I imagine my husband was not.
Well, you guessed it. My first interview last year came from a hospital in Central Florida, outside of Orlando, and off we went as a family to new and warmer scenery.
It really wasn’t that bad, not like I had imagined. I mean, other than the occasional huffyness over marching through Disney World in July, my husband didn’t complain much about the sweltering heat. In fact, we didn’t argue or disagree about the temperature much at all!
You’ve all heard the famous argument. One spouse is cold-natured, the other is hot-natured, and the thermostat is the wedge between them. Adjusting the thermostat is fighting words for many temperature-opposite couples, and my husband and I were as different as night and day. He could sunbathe in the nude on a blanket of snow, and I could submerge myself in a pool of hot lava without missing a beat. With the expanse of climate disagreement between us, I was pleasantly surprised at how my husband had changed. I had always heard that couples became more alike the longer they lived together, and as we made our way through our first Summer in Orlando last year, I decided that was true of us. He had adjusted to my climate, and I was always comfortable in our home. We had a great AC unit, but unlike how it was growing up as a kid, I didn’t feel like I was constantly freezing. I had worried my husband might turn me into an ice cube with the AC in such a warmer area, but he had not. We had kept an amicable and lovely setting on the thermostat the entire assignment.
Well, when I had the opportunity to return to my Orlando hospital, I jumped at the chance. Hot days and sunshine galore! Wee!! I had seen enough of winter, even in the calmer climate of South Carolina, and was eager to return to the heat. Of course, my acclimated husband smiled agreeably for our return, and off again we went to sunny Florida.
It’s started to heat up lately, here in Central Florida, and I’m loving every bit of it. I don’t have to be cold anymore! So imagine my surprise when I got home from work last night and walked into an igloo. Immediately my arms broke out into goosebumps, and icicles started to form from my cold, red nose.
“Why y’all got it like an icebox in here?!” I asked my husband, in between chattering breathes of white smoke (I might be exaggerating, mildly).
And that’s when he surprised me.
“Sorry, babe,” he commented as he stirred the supper he had made. “Time caught up with me today. I didn’t realize it was so late. I always have the thermostat turned down. I turn it back up about an hour before you get home.”
He had not acclimated. He didn’t handle the heat any better than he had before. He still hated it. He still loved to sit around inside Antarctica in short sleeves. He still thought 68 was the perfect thermostat setting. Compared to my desired 74-78. He had not changed like I thought.
And you know what else hadn’t changed? His love for me. That selfless love that was compromising on the little things. It was the kind of love that made Mountain men head off to the beach instead. It made an Eskimo go lay out by the pool with his wife, albeit in the shade, for him. He had not suddenly started to love the hot sun like me or even accept an indoor lukewarm temperature like me, but he had decided to give that extra mile that he wasn’t required to give. He gave it for me. He let go of his ultimate desires in favor of mine because he cared about what I enjoyed. The craziest part, to me, was that he had not felt it necessary to brag about his concessions. I mean, he hadn’t exactly lied about loving the warmer temps, but he also hadn’t seen necessary to parade his sacrifice.
He hadn’t mentioned that he sat around in his boxers with the AC blowing ice shards on his bare skin, grinning ear to ear, while I wore long sleeves and a hoodie to work. Instead, he simply smiled, kissed me a welcome home into our 73 degree Oasis of Love, and sat beside me on the couch while I cuddled under a thick blanket. Come to think of it, was that sweat I had seen all month building on his brow?
So what did I do when I realized my hubby’s secret?
Thank you for turning up the thermostat for me!
That’s what the note had read that I left beside the coffee maker before I left for work. I wanted him to know that I saw and appreciated all the small sacrifices for what they were. Love made concrete, shown in everyday actions that you could miss in a busy life if you weren’t careful. I never wanted to move so fast that I couldn’t see his love displayed.
He never took me for granted, and he never missed the chance to tell me how proud and thankful he was to be my spouse. I didn’t ever want to miss the opportunity either. It seems to me that the key to a happy marriage is taking your eyes off yourself. Everyone seems so worried about their contribution to the marriage, wondering in exasperation to their friends, family, and coworkers if their partner realized all the things they sacrifice, but all the focus on self makes you blind to everything else. When you can serve your spouse in love it will open your eyes more readily to the ways they serve you in return. Some times it is big things, and other times they’re small. But they are all gifts given in love that cultivate a happy life together. Even the surrender of the thermostat war.